Meditation Practice: Monkey Mind

mindfullness Peace is present right here and now in the present moment, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The only question is whether or not we are in touch with it.

I start my days in silence with nothing on my agenda other than just being.   As I exhale I sigh a single audible sigh, and then begin to seek the silence, what is that I hear? It’s the incessant  internal noise  Buddhists refer to as the chatter of the monkey mind.

Who is imprisoning you in suffering? Your mother? Your father? Your boss? The person who cut you off on the highway? Are they the ones who are imprisoning you in suffering? No! We are our own jail-keeper. We construct the prison, we put ourselves inside the cell, we lock it up and throw away the key. And then we blame the world for it. —  Venerable Thubten Chodron

How often do we experience conscious living in the present moment?

When we are exercising or walking are we in the moment? Or are we occupied with the thought of how long it will take us to reach the end? Are we enjoying every movement and every step? Are we taking in all the sights, the smells, and the sounds?  Or are we wearing ear buds to tune into music and tune out of the moment to moment experience?

If our body and mind are too restless to sit then a walking meditation is a good alternative.  We can simply  focus our attention on our breath and our feet contacting the ground.   Thich Nhat Hanh suggests placing one’s foot as “an emperor would place his seal on a royal decree” with dignity, grace and certitude, and “going without arriving”.   We can observe our environment without becoming engaged in it.  And if our monkey mind begins  chattering we can return our attention to observing our breath.

Mindfulness in the present moment

When we are in the company of  those nearest and dearest to us, do we truly listen when they speak of their work, their problems,  their friends?
Or are we absent-minded and disconnected, preoccupied and thinking about something else in the past or future, thus failing to be present in the moment?

Listening requires that we  genuinely focus on the others’ words, meanings, and feelings.  We let go  of our own ideas, roles, and agendas so we appreciate and understand what the other person is conveying from their point of view.  If we don’t  let go then what we “hear”  will all be filtered through our own preconceived ideas and assumptions produced by the monkey mind.

Peace at day’s end

We lead hectic lives and at day’s end there are times when the monkey mind refuses to relax. The primary cause of insomnia is stress, worry and endlessly thinking.  We have all experienced remaining awake in bed for hours, obsessing over past events or future projections.

Unless we can break this cycle of monkey mind chatter, we won’t get the restorative power of sleep we need so that we can face the next day refreshed.  There are are four key steps we can take to turn our bedroom into a “sleep oasis” so we get a good night’s sleep. Lavender aromatherapy can slow nervous system activity and promote relaxation, resulting in a peaceful night’s sleep.   Relaxation techniques are also effective.

Mindfulness is the key to taming our ‘monkey mind’ the internal chaos that keeps us flitting back and forwards, obsessing about the minutiae of life – can be frustrating and elusive. — Source PDF

Learn to experience thoughts passing through the  mind like fluffy clouds passing through the sky. Do not follow them or attempt to drive them away — pay no mind to the chatter and projections of the monkey mind. – Meditation Practice: Mountain Meditation for Beginners

14 thoughts on “Meditation Practice: Monkey Mind

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  5. For two weeks I have been bombarded with exhausting schedules and difficult people. I wanted to find my inner peace. I am trying out the thing you’ve written to help me.

  6. Thank you for such a great resource of reminders of self care and to return to what is important in life. I look forward to exploring your archives in this blog, as well as your resource for bloggers site.

    I have been experiencing a rough patch in my life for a while now and think I am finally ready to take some small baby steps toward health and whole-ness, again. Your blog is a good place to begin ~ junemoon

  7. I’ve restarted therapy recently, myself. Years of trying to quiet the monkey on my own have failed horribly. To be honest, sometimes I think that a lot of my anxiety/stress problems would completely vanish if I just got another dog. I wish that was practical.

  8. Thanks for this reminder and inspiration to ‘be here now’. It’s one of the most difficult things to do, and yet one of the easiest things to do, if you know what I mean. I find I have to make the effort every day to take the time and relax, and to practice mindfulness throughout my day. It brings me more connection with other people, more appreciation of the world around me, and simply more joy.

  9. Wonderful post, Titi. I haven’t heard the expression “Monkey mind” before, it is certainly appropriate. In meditation it is a huge challenge to turn the mind-chatter off, and just be… Hopefully practice makes perfect (or at least, better). :-)

    • Hi Nicone,
      Yes, it does get better. Understand that the minute we respond by wanting to turn it off and/or shove it away we lose all possibility of making a shift into the meditative state, and must begin following our breath again. There is a fable that’s used to teach this. Once there was a village that was overrun with monkeys and the people tried everything to get rid of them. The men of the village tried beating the monkeys with sticks but it didn’t work. Then a wise old man suggested planting banana trees outside the village and that worked all the monkeys went there instead.

      Don’t grasp onto the thoughts projected by the moneky mind — don’t follow them. Let them pass through you unheeded.

      Love and peace,
      TiTi

      P.S. It’s good to hear from you. I haven’t visited because I have a family matter going on that I’m priorizing over blogging.

  10. “going without arriving” I love this thought, this seeming contradiction. It reminds me a little about the necessity to enjoy the journey and not just the destination, so much so, that we seek the journey for its own pleasures.

    • It’s a wonderful quote that’s aimed at assisting us to remain in the present moment and be with what is on our journey. In summer when I am doing my walking barefoot on grass or sand I feel far more connected to the earth and more “in the moment” than I do in winter when I’m wearing shoes. :)

  11. Since last year was so horrendous for us, I have dedicated this to being peaceful for a part of every day. Not counting 1-8-11, I have been pretty sucessful at finding some inner peace.

    • I’ve just experienced a month wherein my monkey mind was in over-drive and became an obstacle to settling into meditation. Though I have been a meditator for many years this last month was reminiscient of when I first struggled to learn how to meditate years ago. Thanks for commenting. May you have a peaceful new year.

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